As the NFC Divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers was drawing to a close, Green Bay Packers fans were possibly witnessing the last game Aaron Rodgers played at Lambeau Field.
The former two-time, probably soon three-time, MVP and 2010 Super Bowl winner spoke before the season kicked off about it potentially being his last with Green Bay. Many reports claimed he was as good as gone, with some even saying he’d rather retire than play another year with the Packers.
After the top-seeded and heavily favored Packers were eliminated by the 49ers on Saturday, the likelihood of Rodgers’ departure increased exponentially. Here are the three best trade destinations for Aaron Rodgers if he leaves the Packers following their bitter playoff defeat.
Best Aaron Rodgers trade destinations
San Francisco 49ers
Staring with an obvious one, the 49ers were actually on the list when Aaron Rodgers asked for a trade this summer. With an outstanding defense and electric skill players like Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, San Francisco’s biggest need is clearly at quarterback. Of course, Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners are now one step away from another Super Bowl, but an anemic passing didn’t exactly drive their upset victory over Green Bay.
With Rodgers directing traffic, the 49ers would be able to be even better offensively. Samuel has emerged as arguably the most dynamic playmaker in football over the second half of the season, and would be even more dangerous with a vertical threat like Rodgers under center. Even greater defensive attention toward Samuel would give Kittle and second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk further opportunities to win one-on-one matchups.
Of course, this trade would depend on various factors. It’s hard to see what the Packers could get from the 49ers that would be worth their time. Green Bay doesn’t have a lot of leverage with Rodgers being unhappy, true that with Rodgers being unhappy, but it is hard to believe that Garoppolo or rookie signal-caller Trey Lance and a few draft picks would be enough for the Packers to part with Rodgers. Thus, while the Niners might be one of Rodgers’ preferred destinations, it is questionable whether they are on the Packers’ list of potential trade partners.
New York Giants
This might be a hard sell for Rodgers, who no doubt wants to compete for another Super Bowl. However, most incumbent playoff teams are settled at QB or do not have the many assets that would make Green Bay interested in a trade. With the Giants, however, there is more than first meets the eye. While New York has missed the playoffs for four years, there’s still talent on its roster. The Giants are favorites to land coach Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their next head coach, which could entice Rodgers to consider the Big Apple as his next destination.
The equation is simple for the Packers: New York could provide them with two top-10 picks in the upcoming NFL draft. With Rodgers likely being followed out the door by All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, Green Bay needs to hit the reset button hard. With the fifth and the seventh picks in the 2022 NFL draft, the Packers rebuild would be off to a great start.
The Giants’ angle is obvious as well, as Rodgers would improve instantly improve their offense. They ranked 31st in total offense this season, as well as bottom-three in passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions. Rodgers running the show would naturally create more space for former Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley on the ground, too. He’s been the shining light of the Giants’ offense when healthy, even with defenses packing the box to stop the run.
New York would need more reinforcements than Rodgers to become a true contender, but his addition would be an amazing start.
The Broncos are another team Rodgers was interested in over the summer, and definitely one that needs to be considered as a potential trade partner for the future Hall-of-Famer. They missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season in 2021, the franchise’s longest postseason drought since the 1970s. Like the 49ers, Denver has a great defense, ranking third in the NFL in 2021, but its offense needs lots of help.
Led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos’ passing game was abysmal this season, finishing 24th in passing attempts, 19th in passing yards and 25th in passing touchdowns. Bridgewater did win seven out of his 14 starts, but there’s no doubt the Broncos would trade for Rodgers in a heartbeat, confident he could lead a defensive-oriented team deep into the playoffs.
The Packers would be interested in this trade because they could get a lot of picks from Denver for Rodgers. The Broncos have all their first-rounders available in the next few seasons, and would surely be willing to part with at least two of them to acquire Rodgers. With a couple second-round picks added to the mix, the Packers could get a ton of value for an aging player who wants to continue his career elsewhere.